Welcome back to the Elemental Hardwoods blog, the most in-depth hardwood species series on the web. Today’s blog is all about hardwood flooring warranties.
Similar to many products on the market nowadays, prefinished hardwood floors are typically accompanied by a warranty. The most common advertised residential warranty is 25 years, however, you may also find 35 yr, 50 yr, 100 yr, and Lifetime warranties. This difference in years covered begs the question, “What’s the difference?”.
The fact of the matter is, there really isn’t any difference when it comes down to what’s covered and what’s not.
In the wood floor industry there are basically two types of residential warranties offered on prefinished floors – a Limited Finish Warranty and a Structural Warranty.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
A Structural Warranty is only offered on engineered floors and generally extends for the lifetime of the product. That “lifetime”, however, typically only applies to the original purchaser. Most warranties, both structural and finish, are not transferrable to a second owner.
The Lifetime Structural Warranty generally guaranties that the engineered wood floors plies will not separate, warp, buckle, or twist “under normal household conditions”. These normal household conditions encompass proper year-round temperature and humidity levels as well as regular maintenance outlined by the manufacturer. Additionally, manufacturer installation procedures must be followed for the warranty to remain intact.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Any deviation from these “normal household conditions” may affect the ability to uphold the structural warranty. Structural warranties are never offered on Solid wood floors.
Limited Finish Warranties are regularly offered for 25, 35, and 50 year periods and sometimes even 100 year periods. The majority of solid and engineered prefinished wood floors will usually be accompanied by this type of warranty. It is the most marketed and the most mis-understood of the two types.
All Limited Finish Warranties, regardless of length, do not cover normal wear and tear. This applies to scratches, scuffs, dulling, and dents as well as any other abuse, or abnormal conditions, the floor may be subjected to. What they do cover is separation from the surface of the wood, i.e. peeling, defects and/or flaws created during the manufacturer’s application process, and premature wear-through which in essence means wearing entirely through the finish to the raw wood. Keep in mind, however, “normal household conditions”, as noted above, must be present at all times for the warranty to remain in effect.
Additionally, common post-installation complaints such as gapping and cupping are never covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. Industry protocol states that it is the installer’s responsibility, as the final inspector, to ensure the wood flooring is acceptable for installation. If the moisture content of the flooring is too high or too low for the given region/application then it should be allowed to acclimate further. If these procedures are met and the floor gaps or cups in the future, then that would be the result of improper environmental conditions or some job-site malady; i.e. unstable temperature and/or humidity levels, wet subfloor, hot spot, burst pipe, etc.
Prefinished wood floors are a substantial investment and their warranties can offer value and protection from catastrophic events when properly adhered to. Be sure to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s warranty, as well as maintenance requirements, when considering a wood floor purchase. Realistic expectations are the first step to a happy, long term relationship between you and your hardwood floor.
Elemental Warranty Links
If you have any questions regarding our warranties, this blog, or our beautiful collection of hardwood floors, please don’t hesitate to contact us.